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EU urged to engage with Iran before US elections

London, Oct 20, IRNA -- Iran will top the US agenda after next month's presidential elections and the European Union will lose out if it does not seek to use its influence now, former UK Foreign Office Minister Tony Lloyd has warned. "If the European Union can begin serious dialogue with the United States and places such as Moscow, and, most importantly, maintain its serious dialogue with Tehran, we could set out something like a road map," he suggested.

Lloyd said that in handling Iran's nuclear issue, Britain and the EU should learn recent lessons and have the sort of debate "that we failed to have in the case of Iraq."

With regard to military action again being an option, he warned that although all things are possible. The "experience in Iraq should warn us of the enormous dangers."

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on EU-Iran relations on Tuesday, the former minister proposed instead a kind of a road map should make it clear positive benefits to Iran and take into account that "Iran would look for security guarantees in its own region."

"The United States would obviously have to play a fundamental role in implementing such guarantees, particularly given its extraordinary influence over Israel," he said.

Lloyd, who briefly served as Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East in Prime Minister Tony Blair's first government, said, Iran was "entitled to security in its own region."

It was "also entitled to recognition and access in economic and social terms," he told MPs. "In that respect, there is a lesson for the Americans, because the EU has already offered the possibility of progress on such issues," he said.

His proposal was made because he felt "no doubt" that Iran will move to the top of the political agenda after the US presidential elections, driven there by Washington's preoccupation to deal with Iran's nuclear issue.

"Iran will be at the top of all our agendas within six months, almost irrespective of what happens in the American election. If Europeans do not begin to take Iran seriously now we will have lost influence by the time the debate begins in the US," Lloyd warned.

He said the EU, the United States and, indeed, countries such as Russia, "must deal collectively with the nuclear situation in Iran." If there was to be a cohesive approach at global level, "the time to do so is now," he said.

... Payvand News - 10/20/04 ... --

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